Monthly Archives: September 2015

Volkswagen Appoints Matthias Mueller As New CEO, Promises Sweeping Changes

Confirming recent rumors that were revealed late last week, Volkswagen has officially appointed Matthias Mueller as the new CEO of the Volkswagen Group amid the fallout from the company’s worsening diesel emissions scandal.

Mueller takes the place of the recently resigned former CEO Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn who stepped down as the scandal was just beginning to receive national attention. Mueller will still remain in his role as the chairman of Porsche until a suitable successor can be found. Mueller will have his work cut out for him as he tries to navigate the Wolfsburg based firm through the stormy waters created by the scandal, but did release a statement vowing to ensure maximum transparency and accountability.

“My most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group- by leaving no unturned and with maximum transparency as well as drawing the right conclusions from the current situation.” “Volkswagen will do everything it can to develop and implement the most stringent compliance and governance standards in our industry.”

Curiously, the official statement released by VW’s supervisory board did not elaborate on the respective fates of the company’s three R&D bosses Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Ulrich Hackenberg, and Wolfgang Hatz who ran VW, Audi, and Porsches R&D departments respectively. All three were allegedly sacked by the board after the scandal first broke, and would’ve been key figures in the part of the company where the “defeat devices” were allegedly created. The statement however did reveal that Volkswagen Group of America president and CEO Michael Horn would keep his post, but amid a reorganization that will formally merge the company’s U.S. Mexico, and Canada operations with former Skoda chairman Winfred Vahland serving as leader of the new entity.

The company’s marketing and sales chief Christian Klinger will also be leaving the company, but unlike the scandal related purges. Klinger’s departure does not appear to be related to the scandal at all and is instead due to “differences with regard to business strategy.”

In addition to the management shakeup and the planned corporate restructuring, VW Passenger Cars chief Herbert Diess revealed that the company is “working at full speed” on a technical solution to its non-compliance with emissions standards. Recent rumors suggest that the company could soon order a recall of the affected models, and while it is unknown how the problem will exactly be fixed. It is believed that it will most likely involve a software fix to either reduce engine performance, or fuel efficiency for diesel vehicles that are currently on the road. It will depend however if TDI models in other world markets are found to be outfitted with defeat devices which could cause  the cost of such a campaign to substantially rise.  Another proposed solution is the retrofit of an all new urea-injection system to the affected vehicles, but it is also costly, and would require customers to add a long term expense to their budgets due to periodic refills of the urea fluid. For its part, Volkswagen has not officially confirmed any formal details of a potential fix but expect that to be unveiled in the near future.

“Our aim is to inform our customers as quickly as possible, so that their vehicles comply fully with regulations” stated Diess. “I assure you that Volkswagen will do everything humanly possible to win back the trust of our customers, the dealerships, and the public.”

Buick Teases Avenir Influenced 2017 Lacrosse

The Buick LaCrosse has done an excellent job reinventing the Buick driving experience, but competition in the mid size luxury car segment is fierce and the sleek Buick is starting to lose ground in some categories. Thankfully the brand has released the first glimpse of the 2017 LaCrosse ahead of its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The lone image showcases the cars new grille, and it is apparent that the Avenir concept played a huge role in the car’s styling. The concept (which made its debut at NAIAS) previewed a new direction for Buick styling, and was also a glimpse into the LaCrosse’s future. This is evident in the chrome wing that spreads out from the trademark tri-shield logo. The wing also helps bring the styling together thanks to the way it connects to the crease above the headlight assemblies.

When the Avenir debuted, it showcased sculpted styling cues that shared a spiritual link to the 1954 Wildcat II Concept while also embracing futuristic cues at the same time. It’s currently unknown how closely the production version of the LaCrosse will follow the concept or if it will adopt the long hood and tapered rear end that also made their respective appearances on the Avenir.

“The Avenir concept shattered expectations of what a Buick could be and the 2017 LaCrosse promises to do the same” stated Buick VP Duncan Aldred. “Its expressive design represents a break from convention, and highlights the progressiveness in all new Buick models.”

The LaCrosse will also be built on an all new platform that promises to be stronger and lighter than before which should translate into a much more responsive and dynamically engaging driving experience thanks in part to a revamped rear suspension that now features a five link setup to help increase responsiveness even further. However, despite the improved ride and handling characteristics, GM claims that the car will take “Buick’s signature quietness to a new threshold.” In short, this means that the new LaCrosse will put a strong emphasis on smooth quiet luxury and will not be mistaken as a BMW anytime soon especially when pushed in spirited driving.

Look for additional details to be announced closer to the LaCrosse’s debut in November, with pricing information and fuel economy figures being revealed closer to its official launch.

 

VW Group CEO Winterkorn Resigns Amid Growing Emissions Crisis

In an announcement released earlier today, Volkswagen Group CEO Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn revealed that he has resigned from his post in the midst of Volkswagen’s ongoing and ever growing emissions scandal involving its TDI lineup of automobiles.

“As CEO I accept responsibility for the irregularities that have been found in diesel engines and have therefore requested to the Supervisory Board to agree on terminating my function as CEO of the Volkswagen Group. I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part.”

Winterkorn elaborated further stating “I have always been driven by my desire to serve this company, especially our customers and employees. Volkswagen has been, is, and always will be a part of my life.”

Winterkorn’s successor has not been named as of yet, but he or she will have to help the company successfully navigate the rough seas generated by the emissions scandal a formidable task in and of itself. Speaking of those turbulent waters, the government revealed that it has expanded its probe into Volkswagen and Audi diesel vehicles and is now including the 3.0 liter TDI diesel engine in its list of affected engines. The power plant sees duty in the Audi Q3, A6, A7, A8, and the Volkswagen Touareg. The Porsche Cayenne is also involved despite the brand not being listed in the original probe. Audi however was already part of the original probe, so the inclusion of more Audi vehicles in this revised list is not surprising.

The EPA is also looking into all 2016 TDI model’s with notable mentions being the Beetle TDI, the recently unveiled 2016 Passat, Golf TDI, and the Jetta TDI. As a result, the agency banned Volkswagen from selling diesel powered automobiles until the Wolfsburg based firm can prove that it is fully compliant with U.S. emissions standards.

Meanwhile, the formal legal investigation into the scandal reached a new tempo when it was revealed that the U.S. Department of Justice plans to prosecute more executives for various white collar crimes. This decision rescinds the rather light handed method of dealing with the problem that was spearheaded by former Attorney General Eric Holder. As a result of these initial prosecutions, the government could bring even more indictments targeting executives as well as key low level workers if evidence suggests that they were involved in the illegal installation of the defeat devices.

Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for the latest developments on Volkswagen’s emissions scandal as they become available.

Volkswagen Unveils 2016 Passat, New Styling And Technology Highlight Updates

Looking to breathe new life into the Passat’s sluggish sales numbers, Volkswagen has unveiled the updated 2016 Passat which brings bolder styling cues and a whole suite of new technology that aims to help it stand out better when viewed against rivals from Honda and Toyota

The exterior styling for example ditches the current model’s bland but understated cues and adds a dose of much needed aggression and boldness to the package. Volkswagen claims that virtually every piece of sheet metal is all new and that only the roof, doors, and2016_passat_5399 the sides of the car are carried over from the old model. The front fascia serves as a key example of this newfound freshness and features crisper headlights that allow the Passat to fall in step with the company’s current design language while an all new three slat grille and rippled hood help add a hint of sportiness to the Passat’s mug. The rear fascia also benefits from the updates and features new tail lights and a redesigned trunk lid.

Buyers looking for a more performance oriented experience will be pleased with the R-Line package (pictured). Following the same script as other R-Line models, it features a tweaked package exclusive front bumper that incorporates GTI inspired black accents, side skirts, a rear diffuser, and 19 inch alloy wheels shod with ZR rated Continental tires that promise more grip than the standard all season tires.

The interior (a favorite target of critics due to its cheap plastics and bland design) has also been reworked to appeal to more younger buyers. A new steering wheel greets the drivers 2016_passat_5381hands, while an updated instrument cluster and a slicker center console round out the changes and incorporate several new technologies to enhance the driving experience further.

Our favorite bit of technology is the all new MIB II entertainment system that is fully compatible with both Apple Car Play and Android Auto. This is a pleasant change from older Volkswagen’s which were only compatible with Apple products and forced Android users to buy a costly adapter before hooking their products up to the stereo. A rear view camera is also standard issue and should please safety conscious buyers.

Speaking of safety, Volkswagen engineers have equipped the 2016 Passat with the company’s all new Automatic Post-Collision Braking System which applied the brakes after the initial impact to reduce the damage from a secondary collision. Other welcome safety features include adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, a lane departure warning system, and autonomous emergency braking capability.

Performance hardware for the 2016 Passat is largely carried over from the old model with the 1.8 liter turbocharged four cylinder continuing its service in the base model Passat, with higher trims featuring a 280 horsepower 3.6 liter VR6. A 2.0 liter TDI turbodiesel is also 2016_passat_5392available but look for that particular engine to make its debut much later thanks to the effects of Volkswagen’s rapidly growing emissions scandal which has resulted in the company not being able to sell its diesel products due to an ongoing ban. The 1.8 liter and the 2.0 liter TDI can be ordered with either a manual or an automatic transmission, but the VR6 is only available with the company’s dual-clutch transmission.

Look for the 2016 Passat to begin arriving in dealer lots later this year with a base MSRP of $22,440. Volkswagen is keeping the rest of the pricing ladder under wraps though expect that particular bit of information to be revealed when the Wolfsburg based firm opens up pre-ordering for customers.

 

 

Bentley Working On Faster Version Of Bentayga SUV?

Bentley’s recently unveiled Bentayga SUV has certainly made a splash in its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show, but if a new report from England is to be believed. It suggests that the British luxury car maker has an even faster Bentayga already in the pipeline that could be a formidable contender to rivals such as the Range Rover SVR, while also being the most powerful performance SUV ever built.

The report claims that the new variant is tentatively called the Bentayga Speed, and it will pack a tweaked version of the 600 horsepower 6.0 liter W12 engine that currently sees duty in the standard issue Bentayga (pictured.) The souped up motor would be linked up to an equally modified eight speed automatic transmission, which would allow the Speed version to make the sprint to 60 mph in under four seconds. This particular figure would make the Bentayga Speed one of the fastest models on the market, and put it in a very elite club of contenders.  The extra grunt would be enhanced by revised exterior styling that will include a new body kit, bigger spoilers front and rear, side skirts, and a deeper rear bumper housing a performance tuned exhaust system. Meanwhile a comprehensive suite of suspension and brake upgrades would allow the big Bentley to carve corners while also being able to deliver smooth and steady stops from a wide range of vehicle speeds.

As expected, the folks in Crewe are not revealing any official details regarding the Bentayga Speed or if the project has even been formally approved or not. The only shred of information in the report that appears to be somewhat official is that while the Speed would be the most powerful SUV ever, it will not be the first SUV to break the 200 mph barrier due to a laundry list of safety concerns as well as its unfavorable aerodynamic profile. Instead, look for Bentley engineers to limit the top speed to a still lofty 187 mph which is quite good for an SUV as big as the Bentayga.

If these rumors are indeed proven to be true, look for the Bentley Bentayga Speed to make its public debut as early as next year with a teaser campaign preceding that debut in a fashion very similar to what was seen in the standard Bentayga. The Speed would essentially be alone in its segment for a brief while, but that will change when Lamborghini will unveil the production version of the Urus concept. The Urus would be the first serious rival to the Bentayga Speed and would try to outshine the big Bentley with its own Italian take on performance.

Volkswagen Unveils Redesigned 2017 Tiguan

With the 2016 Frankfurt Motor Show currently underway, Volkswagen has released new details regarding the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan while also showcasing the higher tier GTE trim.

The revised SUV would be the first non car product built on the company’s MQB platform an incredibly flexible architecture that has already proven to be a nifty piece of engineeringtiguan_european_model_5346 in the Golf and GTI hatchbacks and is expected to eventually be incorporated into other VW and Audi products.

The exterior styling seen here is for the European market, but look for the U.S. bound Tiguan to retain much of its Cross Coupe concept inspired styling as well as the availability of an optional CC (Cross Coupe) model. The styling itself does look a bit bland from certain angles, but it still retains a subtle hints of handsomeness especially at the rear of the Tiguan.

The interior of the Tiguan also showcases Volkswagen’s attempts to rectify it’s biggest weakness its relatively small size. While it’s compact oriented design was loved in Europe, it proved to be a big handicap on U.S. soil where it’s predecessor was outclassed by many rivals in its segment. This forced the Tiguan to compete with smaller SUVs that were often tiguan_r-line_european_model_5332lighter and had a lower price point. For 2017, Volkswagen aims to end this trend by offering two different seating configurations for the first time ever. Buyers can choose from either two or three row variants that will allow the Tiguan to be more of a contender in its segment especially in passenger space. It is currently unknown if Volkswagen will take a page out of Hyundai’s playbook and market both the standard model and the CC under one model name (similar to the Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Sport.)

Speaking of passenger room, it has grown substantially thanks to the extra 2.4 inches on length that the MQB platform provides as well as its 1.3 inches of extra width. These changes along with an extra 3 inches on the wheelbase help increase cargo capacity by 2 cubic feet, and also helps improve headroom and legroom especially in the rear a key weak spot in the last generation Tiguan.

Performance hardware for the 2017 Tiguan will depend on what market it is being sold in. But look for the U.S. version to feature a 1.8 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine that tiguan_european_model_5343will see duty in base models as well as an optional 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder for higher trims. A seven speed DSG gearbox will most likely be the only transmission choice avalible with front wheel drive standard. Buyers in snowy locales can opt for the avalible all-wheel drive system that allows the Tiguan to stay sure-footed even in the toughest of weather conditions.

 

tiguan_gte_european_model_5317

In addition to the standard Tiguan, Volkswagen also showcased an eco-friendly concept of the Tiguan that will share the stage alongside the production version in Frankfurt.

Known formally as the Tiguan GTE Concept, Volkswagen undertook a multi pronged effort when it came to constructing this concept  versus what has been seen with past plug-in tiguan_gte_european_model_5324 (1)hybrid models. All the usual suspects are present and accounted for ( a 150 horsepower gasoline engine, a 13 kWh battery pack, and an electric motor,) But Volkswagen has raised the bar a few notches by going the extra mile when it comes to recharging the vehicle thanks to a roof mounted solar panel that helps boost the conventional AC charging system.

While this is not the first time that solar panels have been seen on hybrid vehicles, Volkswagen’s application allows drivers to complete roughly a mile or so of commuting without plugging the GTE into the wall, or using a single gallon of gasoline. Of course, drivers will have to avoid using any accessories to maximize range but a Volkswagen representative revealed the full potential of this setup stating

“Under ideal conditions, the energy that it generates annually is sufficient to add up to 1,000 km of driving range (Germany 500 km, Southern Europe 800 to 1,000 km) depending on the regional solar radiation power.” When converted to imperial measurements, this translates to 320 miles on the low end, and 620 miles when pushed to maximum range.

When it is not being used for maximum MPG’s, the GTE can also transform into a potent performance CUV thanks to all the electrical components being designed to moonlight as tiguan_gte_european_model_5326 performance enhancers. This occurs when the driver selects GTE mode, and allows this unique Tiguan to use all the system power for maximum acceleration. As a result, Volkswagen claims that the GTE concept is capable of hitting 62 mph in 8.1 seconds which is quite commendable for a hybrid SUV.

It is unknown if this latest iteration of the hybrid power train will ever make it into production, but looking back on the lukewarm reception that greeted the now discontinued Touareg Hybrid. It is possible that this model would meet the same fate, and prove to be unfavorable to U.S. buyers. However, there is a slim chance that it could make an appearance as a Europe only offering thanks in part to that market’s higher gas prices.

Lamborghini To Debut Huracan Spyder At Frankfurt

In an official statement released earlier this week. Lamborghini has revealed that it will be unveiling the all new Huracan Spyder at next weeks Frankfurt Motor Show.

It was originally speculated that the Italian supercar maker would hold off on unveiling it until the Geneva Motor Show in March. But a statement revealed via Twitter confirmed that the company had decided on an earlier Frankfurt unveiling for the Spyder.

Lamborghini’s Tweet did not reveal very many details about the car, but it did include a lone teaser image of the Spyder. While a strategically placed pillar kept much of the car obscured, the rear of the car does appear to reveal that the new Spyder would retain the coupe’s C-pillar line which suggests that the Spyder would be a targa model versus a formal convertible model like its predecessor the Gallardo Spyder.

Regardless of what roof configuration ultimately makes the cut, look for the Huracan Spyder to carryover virtually all the coupe’s performance goodies including the potent 5.2 liter V10 and all 601 of its tarmac shredding horses. This horsepower figure as well as its equally impressive 413 lb-ft of torque should allow the Spyder to make the sprint to 60 mph in just over 3 seconds which would only be a tad slower than the coupe’s 0 to 60 time.

Lamborghini did not reveal any pricing information for the Huracan Spyder, but look for the droptop to carry a premium over its coupe sibling, and arrive with an MSRP just over $240,000. After it makes its debut in Frankfurt, look for the first production units to begin arriving in Lamborghini showrooms sometime next year.

Rezvani Unveils Beast Speedster, Brings 300 Horsepower and Ferocious Styling To Supercar Ranks

Following its success with the Ariel Atom based Beast, California based super car builder Rezvani Motors has unveiled its latest creation, the Rezvani Beast Speedster which brings 300 horsepower, open air fun, and affordability to the Beast model family.

Performance comes from the same Honda derived 2.4 liter i-VTEC four cylinder engine that sees duty in the Atom and the Beast, but Rezvani engineers have equipped it with an all Rezvani 3new supercharger that allows the tweaked engine to produce a solid 300 horsepower and a respectable 224 lb-ft of torque. For comparison, the new engine makes 60 more horses than the standard issue Ariel Atom, but is still 200 horsepower short of the range topping Beast. The new engine also allows the Speedster to make the sprint to 60 mph in a brisk 3.9 seconds. However, the 300 lbs of extra weight that is produced by its 1,650 lb bodywork do keep it from surpassing the Ariel’s 2.9 second 0 to 60 time.

The interior of the Beast Speedster retains much of the function over form layout that first made its debut in the original Beast. The snug cockpit features seating for two, and also includes four point racing harnesses to keep driver and passenger firmly in place. Unlike Rezvani 2the more hardcore Beast, Rezvani has given the Speedster’s interior all new leather trim that can be found on the carbon fiber sport seats, flat bottomed steering wheel, and shift knob. The Speedster also comes equipped with Apple’s CarPlay system, but we’d prefer the alluring soundtrack of the Speedster’s loud exhaust note versus hearing Silento’s viral hit Watch Me Whip/Ne Ne through the sound system any day.

The open top themed styling and the performance tweaks will command a hefty premium with base prices starting at $139,000. This is less expensive than the $159,000 500 horsepower Beast, but is twice the MSRP of a basic Ariel Atom 3 model. Currently Rezvani is working on a third Beast model to sell alongside the original Beast and the Speedster according to a report released by Worldcarfans, but it is currently unknown when the company will reveal more details about that particular offering. We suspect that more information could trickle out either later this year, or sometime in 2016 and we look forward to hearing more details as they become available.

Rolls Royce Unveils Dawn Droptop Ahead Of Frankfurt Debut

Following a steady stream of teasers, Rolls Royce has formally unveiled the all new Dawn convertible ahead of its formal debut at the 2016 Frankfurt Motor Show.

When Rolls Royce engineers were designing the new Dawn, they gathered much of their inspiration from the original 1952 Silver Dawn Drophead coupe and aims to be an open air alternative to the Wraith coupe. However the Dawn shares very little with the fore-mentioned coupe, with Rolls Royce executives claiming that the Dawn only shares 20 percent of its body panels with the Wraith a move that should silence critics that may cite the Dawn as a classic case of badge engineering.

The exterior styling of the Dawn does not stray very far from typical Rolls Royce cues with the car featuring a long hood, a short rear deck, and an equally long rear overhang. WhenP90196713-highRes compared side by side with the Wraith, the Dawn’s front grille is set 45mm further inward while the lower rear bumper has been extended by 53 mm. The key feature of the Dawn however is its folding cloth roof which takes 20 seconds to fold up and down, and can be operated at speeds up to 31 mph.

The interior of the Dawn also shares the Rolls Royce tradition of rewarding its lucky occupants with a whole suite of luxury features and appointments while also featuring seating for four, a rarity in this elite segment. The Dawn will also feel just as solid on the P90196574-highResroad as the Wraith, thanks to a specially reinforced chassis that helps silence body flex. Rolls Royce claims that the chassis helps make the Dawn the most rigid four-seater convertible in the market today.

“At Rolls Royce, we pride ourselves as creators of fine motor cars that also serve as social spaces” stated Giles Taylor, Director of Design, Rolls Royce Motorcars. “The idea of creating a car like the Dawn that can be used in comfort by only two adults on a day to day basis is anathema. In creating Dawn, we have accepted no compromise to the comfort and luxury of four adults who want to travel together in the pinnacle of style.”

Performance for the Dawn comes from the Ghost/Wraith’s 6.6 liter V12 engine which is good for a healthy 563 horsepower, and a healthy 575 lb-ft of torque. Rolls Royce claims P90196577-highResthat these figures allow the Dawn to make the sprint to 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds (which is quite good for a vehicle that weighs over 5,600 lbs) before hitting its 155 mph electronically mandated top speed. All of this power is sent to the rear wheels through a carryover eight speed automatic transmission that promises silky smooth shifts as well as excellent fuel economy.

Rolls Royce did not reveal official pricing for the Dawn, but look for the bespoke drop top to have an MSRP of just under $300,000 with fully optioned examples going well beyond that figure before taxes and fees are applied. This initial price point would make the car a P90196587-highRescheaper alternative to the $533,000 Phantom Drophead Coupe while also allowing the brand to have a more focused competitor to its chief rival the Bentley Continental convertible. The Dawn’s arrival comes at a key time for the brand which is also developing a new SUV that will compete with the upcoming Bentley Bentayga, and aims to give Rolls a slice of the luxury SUV sales pie.

 

 

Model S

Tesla To Unveil Model 3 In March, Geneva Appearance Likely

In a statement released earlier this week via Twitter, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed that the California firm’s new entry level sedan would be unveiled in March which gives fresh ammunition to rumors that it would make its official appearance at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.

The Model 3 is expected to go into production in about two years, and would be a key product for the company’s new gigafactory. The new EV is also expected to be a competitor for the upcoming Chevrolet Bolt, and Tesla hopes its 250 miles of all electric range can help it standout against that particular model. This impressive range also highlights the Model 3’s other key attribute, its more accessible MSRP price with Musk’s tweet confirming that it will start at $35,000.

Musk revealed that their is no agenda in place for one particular customer base stating “There is no agenda to sell to wealthy customers only,” obviously hinting at his strong desire to make Tesla more accessible to a wider range of customers that would not otherwise have the cash needed to put one in their garage. He also revealed that the Model 3 will not go “super crazy” with features like the Model S and Model X possibly hinting that Tesla plans a more gradual roll-out of updates to give the Model 3 time to catch on with consumers. Musk also hinted that “adventurous” upgrades will be available later on possibly for range topping Model 3 variants though we wouldn’t be too surprised if some of these upgrades trickle their way to lesser variants.

In the same suite of tweets, Musk also revealed more information about the Model X CUV revealing that the Model X is roughly $5,000 more expensive in all of its trim levels than the Model S with buyers being able to choose colors and equipment packages in a few short weeks. These are very key times for Tesla, and it will be interesting to see whether these ambitious plans bear promising fruit for the firm and its customers.